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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

(by Levon who is listening to Spirit Family Reunion)

I decided to take my guitar downtown to market square today and do some busking.  Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on the standards, and what better way to practice than the potential for a dollar or two?  The progressions are pure and melodies need only be whistled.  If I am to play them daily, better to slip them in an atmosphere where they may trickle over cafe tables and hug the corners of old buildings that might remember. There is an industry of music that is over saturated, yet so many places could use it.   It was with this level of optimism that I pedaled heartily to the scene of my bidding audience.

There were some things already going on.  For one, the large stage at the head of the square was having a sound check for the upcoming Shakespeare in the Square.  At the other end by the fountains was a birthday party with nearly twenty youngsters screaming in the cold water.  Crutch Park beyond the square was closed off for what looked like some sort of civic engagement, and a bluegrass duet had flanked the alley headed to Gay Street. It looked like the square was getting along fine.

I’m usually one to make easy excuses when it comes to not taking spotlights.  However, that’s a luxury I cannot afford myself in these moments when a dollar or two is a dollar or two.  I chose the most optimal position I could, given the obstacles just described: at a table beside a mother from the birthday party.  With my guitar case out and my stack of CDs in the chair between us, I started very softly, “All of Me…why not take all of me…?”  We said hello and then pretended it wasn’t awkward until I remembered I was supposed to be entertaining.  Desperately, I wished I had better gimmicks up my sleeve besides Happy Birthday.  The Pink Panther. The Flintstones.  Any street busker worth their beer money would have known the drill.

Not that I brought a set list, but I wanted to bring a controlled contribution.  My unfamiliar bantering, it began to feel like.  When no one is really asking or counting on you to play, it’s easy to come in and out.  Be strong when you should, be atmosphere when you’re fiddling.

a running joke on my photography skills

After an hour I packed up and headed to Morelock Music around the corner.  Really I needed to be louder, so I spent all my takings on new strings.  I left some CDs and talked shop for a bit.  Everywhere I go, I recruit for my band.  Bands form, reform, and talk about forming in a gaseous state.  We get our own craigslist tab.  Organizing musicians to arrive together in an efficient manner and create livelihood for themselves is probably harder than government.  I’m going to start asking for resumes.

The Mason Jar coming soon


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